Share
December 7, 2016 12:00 PM, EST
UPS Debuts Delivery by Electric Bike in Portland, Ore.
UPS Inc.
UPS Inc. will be swapping one of its big brown trucks for a big brown bike.

The Atlanta logistics company said Dec. 7 that it's testing delivery by electric bicycle in Portland, a first for the company in the United States. UPS, which started as a bicycle messenger service in Seattle, began testing e-bike delivery in Europe in 2012.

It already uses a fleet of traditional bicycles during the peak holiday delivery season in Portland, but the electric bikes are expected to be used year-round. They can cover more ground and carry more cargo because electric motors can give the courier's pedal power a boost.

Bike delivery is making a comeback, especially in crowded urban areas where parking is elusive. Portland already has several dedicated bicycle delivery firms, and many more companies employ bicycle couriers to deliver their own products.

They primarily sell the goodwill associated with emissions-free delivery. Local bike-delivery firms even sell advertising space on the cargo compartments.

UPS no doubt hopes some of that goodwill will come its way, but the company also says it's benefited in Europe by not wasting time searching for parking.

Neither goodwill nor efficiency was enough to stop Amazon, an e-retailer turned logistics company, from ending its fling with bike delivery. Amazon tested bicycle couriers in Seattle for its two-hours-or-less Prime Now delivery service, but it abruptly ended the experiment in June.